I’m about 10 days post-marathon and my legs have lost all their soreness. That does not, however, mean that they are recovered, which is the point of this post. If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard a marathoner–especially a new marathoner–declare one week later that they are recovered, only to see them get injured a few weeks later, well…
Marathon recovery can be extremely deceiving. Absence of soreness is good, of course, and means that you can resume some light, shorter running. But it doesn’t mean that you are ready to jump back in to full on training. It’s such an easy thing to do. Believe me, I know. You come back from a great race and you just can’t wait to get back out there. Or you come back from a bad marathon and you want redemption, so you start training your brains out.
I’ve done both: After my very first marathon, where I was thrilled with my 3:39, I was back out two days later running too fast and too far. But I was on a high. End result? A tibial stress fracture about six weeks later. Then last year, after the hot Boston and my slow time, I felt like I hadn’t even run a marathon. So back out I went and the end result was overtraining and an awful half marathon five weeks later. (You’d think I’d know better!). So I get it.
These days, my approach is more along the lines of less is more in the first few weeks after a marathon. Last week my mileage totaled 12 extremely easy miles, a couple of swims and extra rest. This week, my long run on Saturday will be back up to a 10, but everything else for the most part is easy and short. I will do some shorter, quick intervals on Wednesday just to get the legs back into the habit of turning over, but nothing major at all.
One thing that I think helps ensure you stay on the easier side of things is not scheduling any races too soon after the marathon. This has become my practice and it keeps me in check from doing too much, too soon.
Are there exceptions to this advice, people who recovery quickly and can do a bit more than the rest of us post-marathon? Of course. But keep in mind, they are the exceptions. For most of the rest of us, complete recovery from a marathon can take three and even four weeks. So do yourself a favor, assume you are not an exception, and take it easy–easier than you want–post-marathon.
Have you ever blown your marathon recovery?